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Forgotten Champions: Lonnie Bradley


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One of the champions from the 90's that flew under the radar or so it seems, was Lonnie Bradley, the WBO middleweight champion between 1995 and 1997. He was unbeaten and his career seemed to be going far before he suffered a detached retina while sparring one day-death for many boxers before and after him. It meant the end of his career and even though he mounted a comeback twice, his comebacks were ultimately shortlasting and unsuccessful. This is the story of Lonnie Bradley.


Born Lonnie Sterling Bradley, September 16 1968 in Charleston, South Carolina, Bradley was the 1992 National Golden Gloves champion and a 3-time New York GG champion, boxing out of New York. He was trained by Bobby Cassidy, who also trained Donny Lalonde previously, among others. His manager was Dave Wolf, coincidentally also Lalonde's manager. Bradley stands 5'11 which is a good height for a middleweight and as a boxer he possessed power and good boxing skills. Early on, he scored 4 first-round knockouts and 5 second-round knockouts. He was 19-0 when he first won the New York State middleweight title by UD10 against Apolinar Hernandez. Although he was down in the second round, he put Hernandez down in the ninth and tenth to win clearly. This was March 3 '95 and on May 19 he got a chance to win the WBO belt against David Mendez, 13-6, which was vacated by Steve Collins. It was at Buffalo Bill's Star Arena in Primm, Nevada where Bradley realised his dream by stopping Mendez by TKO 12 after leading soundly on all scorecards. Only 2 months later he made his first defense when he faced the son of Victor Galindez, Dario Victor, and dispatched him by a TKO in the first round. Also his second defense was quick, as he beat Randy Smith by TKO 2 after flooring him twice. His first true test came in the third defense against Lonnie Beasley, a former junior middleweight and a very solid contender with a record of 27-2-2. It was May 7 '96 in Steubenville and Bradley impressed by winning by a near-shutout on the scorecards after 12 rounds of fighting.


The middleweight division was weakened however, after the loss of its' biggest stars like Roy Jones, James Toney and Gerald McClellan, who all moved up by 1995, while Julian Jackson was no longer what he was. So, Lonnie Bradley was destined to strive as just another alphabet champion, despite his talent and abilities, and the best name he would end up fighting was a washed up former world welterweight champion Simon Brown. He beat Brown in his fourth defense by a clear UD, August 30 that 1996. Brown would only win two more fights after that. Bradley experienced a draw for the first time in his fifth defense against the solid and skilled Jamaican-Canadian Otis Grant; two judges had each fighter up by 115-113 and the turn had it 114-114. His sixth and last defense as the WBO champ came June 28 '97, against unknown John Williams, who would later fight Antonio Tarver. Bradley stopped him early in round 8 by TKO at the MGM Grand. He was then scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Green, the new hot name in the division, but during sparring with Troy Waters, he suffered an eye injury which resulted in a detached retina. It of course forced him to cancel the fight and retire, at least for a couple years. He came back as a super middleweight in August '99 and beat Robert Muhammad by TKO 6. He then won one fight on points against a subpar opponent before he again had a layoff for 3 years, returning in August 2002 and beating another subpar opponent on points. He was then inactive for a year and his prime was clearly spent. He was 35 when he had his last fight, losing for the first time by TKO 7 against the unspectacular but tall (6'2) and southpaw David Lopez. It was November 7 2003 and Bradley retired for good after that. His record is 29 wins, 21 by ko, and 1 loss of course.


Lonnie Bradley had a rather good career, but sadly for him, that eye injury derailed it just as it was really starting to take off. Just another example of a fighter who could not recover after coming back from a serious injury. According to an article on The Sweet Science, he was planning to make another comeback on April 8 2005, but for unknown reasons it didn't materialize. Bradley also blamed his loss to Lopez on not being told he was a southpaw until it was too late, so he didn't train for fighting a southpaw. He now works as a trainer in New York and before that he worked as a security guard after his last fight. He was described as a likeable and humble guy, hardworking and dedicated to the sport while a boxer, which is attested in how many times he fought while holding the WBO title.



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